Congaree National Park vs Crater Lake National Park

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Congaree National Park vs Crater Lake National Park

“Get ready to escape to two of America’s most diverse and captivating national parks- Congaree and Crater Lake. From the lush hardwood forests of Congaree to the serene waters of Crater Lake, these parks offer a breathtaking contrast of landscapes. Congaree, home to the tallest deciduous trees in the eastern U.S., is a haven for hikers, while Crater Lake, formed by a collapsed volcanic caldera, is a must-see for geology buffs and nature lovers alike. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime, as you explore the unique beauty of Congaree and Crater Lake National Parks.”

Hiking Trails in Congaree National Park and Crater Lake National Park

Congaree and Crater Lake national parks offer diverse hiking experiences. Congaree is known for its swamp and old-growth forest trails, like the 2.4-mile King Snake, which showcases towering trees and wildlife. For a longer hike, try the 17-mile Weston Lake Loop in the park’s wilderness area. Crater Lake features hikes around its famous blue lake and nearby peaks, with the 1.1-mile Rim Village Trail offering easy lake views. The hardest trail is the Cleetwood Cove, a 2.2-mile descent to the lake shore with 700 feet elevation drop.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Congaree National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Boardwalk Loop Trail 2.40 mi 13.12 ft loop Easy 4/5
Weston Lake Loop Trail 4.59 mi 16.40 ft loop Easy 4/5
Oakridge Trail 6.29 mi 19.68 ft loop Easy 4/5
Congaree River Trail 9.88 mi 52.48 ft loop Easy 4/5
Kingsnake Trail 7.38 mi 22.96 ft out and back Easy 3.5/5
Congaree Bluff Trail 2.10 mi 19.68 ft loop Easy 3.5/5
Congaree River Blue Trail 46.70 mi 6.56 ft point to point Moderate 5/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Crater Lake National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Garfield Peak Trail 3.39 mi 1,069.28 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Cleetwood Cove Trail 2.10 mi 623.20 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
The Watchman Peak Trail 1.60 mi 387.04 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Mount Scott Trail 4.19 mi 1,259.52 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Discovery Point Trail 3.99 mi 915.12 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Plaikni Falls Trail 2.00 mi 134.48 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Wizard Island Trail 2.30 mi 751.12 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Sun Notch Trail 0.80 mi 127.92 ft loop Easy 4.5/5
Pinnacles Valley Trail 0.70 mi 39.36 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Mazama Village to Rim Village at Crater Lake 8.28 mi 1,741.68 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5

Wildlife in Congaree National Park and Crater Lake National Park

Congaree National Park in South Carolina has diverse wildlife incl. white-tailed deer, river otters, beavers, bobcats & is a birdwatcher’s haven with species like wood duck, prothonotary warbler, swallow-tailed kite. It has largest old-growth forest in US & visitors can see species of trees like bald cypress, oak, holly.

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is famous for its crystal-clear lake surrounded by a caldera, created by a dormant volcano. Visitors can see Roosevelt elk, black bears, & pikas. Birdwatching opportunities incl. ospreys, ravens, Steller’s jays. Park has variety of conifers incl. Douglas firs, lodgepole pines, western hemlocks.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Congaree National Park and Crater Lake National Park. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Congaree National Park Crater Lake National Park
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier
Sharp-Shinned Hawk Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Osprey Osprey
Tree Swallow Tree Swallow
Mallard Mallard
Canada Goose Canada Goose
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
American Robin American Robin
Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl
Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker Northern Flicker
Merlin Merlin
Barn Swallow Barn Swallow
Savannah Sparrow Savannah Sparrow
Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron
Hermit Thrush Hermit Thrush
American Kestrel Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow European Starling
European Starling Northern Pintail
American Wigeon American Wigeon
Green-Winged Teal American Pipit
American Pipit Swainson’s Thrush

Mammals

Congaree National Park Crater Lake National Park
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Big Brown Bat Big Brown Bat
Bobcat Bobcat
Striped Skunk Striped Skunk
Raccoon Little Brown Bat
Black Bear Deer Mouse
Red Fox Raccoon
Mink Black Bear
Common Gray Fox Porcupine
North American River Otter Silver-Haired Bat
White-Tailed Deer Hoary Bat
Virginia Opossum Red Fox
Eastern Red Bat Long-Tailed Weasel
White-Footed Mouse House Mouse
Eastern Cottontail Mountain Lion
Eastern Fox Squirrel Mink
Eastern Gray Squirrel Mule Deer Or Black-Tailed Deer
Feral Hog Gray Fox
Northern Short-Tailed Shrew Wolf
Least Shrew Long-Legged Myotis
Long-Eared Myotis
American Badger
Ermine

Reptiles

Congaree National Park Crater Lake National Park
Racer Western Terestrial Garter Snake
Ringneck Snake Racer
Common Garter Snake Sagebrush Lizard
Common Kingsnake Common Garter Snake
Rubber Boa
Western Skink
Western Fence Lizard

Insects

Congaree National Park Crater Lake National Park
Alfalfa Sulphur Orange Sulphur
Monarch Painted Lady
American Painted Lady Red Admiral
Red Admiral Honey Bee
Mourning Cloak Purplish Copper
Cabbage Butterfly Anise Swallowtail
Checkered Skipper
Variegated Fritillary
Buckeye
Commom Wood Nymph
Gray Hairstreak

Fish

Congaree National Park Crater Lake National Park
Largemouth Bass Rainbow Trout
Green Sunfish Brook Trout
Bluegill Brown Trout
Golden Shiner Lake Trout
European Carp Silver Salmon
Yellow Bullhead Kokanee Salmon
Graceful Catfish Cutthroat Trout
Black Crappie
Mosquitofish
Brown Bullhead

Beautiful Landscapes in Congaree National Park and Crater Lake National Park

Congaree National Park is famous for its ancient hardwood forest, the largest in US, with towering trees, cypress, and tupelo gum. The elevated boardwalk trail offers scenic views of the forest.

Crater Lake National Park is famous for its deep blue lake, surrounded by cliffs and volcanic peaks, formed by the collapse of a volcanic caldera. Visitors can drive around the rim or hike to overlooks for stunning views.

Things To-Do and Activities in Congaree National Park and Crater Lake National Park

Congaree NP offers camping, fishing, kayaking, bird watching & diverse ecosystems while Crater Lake NP offers scenic drives, boat tours, fishing, winter sports, & stunning views of its deep blue lake formed by a collapsed volcano. Congaree focuses on ecosystems & wildlife, Crater Lake on geological wonders.

Best Time to Visit Congaree National Park and Crater Lake National Park

Congaree NP in SC experiences humid subtropical climate with hot, rainy summers (80-90°F) and mild winters (40-60°F). Best time to visit is fall (Sept-Nov) for pleasant temp and autumn foliage.
Crater Lake NP in Oregon has a subalpine climate with cold, snowy winters (20-30°F, up to 43ft snow) and mild summers (40-70°F). July and Aug offer clear skies, comfortable weather and recreational activities.

Family Friendliness of Congaree National Park and Crater Lake National Park

Congaree and Crater Lake National Parks both offer outdoor activities, but Crater Lake is more family-friendly. Crater Lake has easier access to trails, ranger programs, and Junior Ranger activities. Congaree, while offering hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing, is more remote with limited facilities, making it less convenient for families. If traveling with children, Crater Lake is the better option for a family-friendly experience.

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